An interesting thing occurs almost immediately as you enter the Grove Theatre Centre, situated next to the softball fields in George Izay Park in Burbank. As soon as the doors close and you take in Leonard Ogden’s set, complimented by David Darwin’s lighting for the GTC’s current production, “Twelve Angry Men,” you feel that you’ve been transported to a much more theatre-oriented part of town.
The production itself, actually, is a bit of a minor miracle, seeing as though it was mounted in about a fortnight when a rental production bailed out at the last moment. That’s why it’s easy to forgive some unsmoothed edges in some performances here, but the cast of 12 surly, presumably very uncomfortable white men jammed into a sweltering New York City jury room and charged with deciding the fate of a 16-year old black youth accused of stabbing his father to death are consistently above average. Originally penned as a teleplay in the less racially-enlightened 1950’s, Reginald Rose’s drama retains its compelling power by focusing on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony and the hidden motivations of the empanelled jurors.
As the one juror whose conscience holds forth against an overwhelming majority and questionable eyewitness testimony, David Allen Jones’ performance is a paragon of calm, reasonable sanity amidst much bluster and fury. Kevin Cochran directs his professional cast with a steady and confident hand. Intriguing in its development and moving in its conclusion, this production is a pleasant surprise after an evening’s walk through the park.
“Twelve Angry Men” plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 7 pm from April 4 to April 18. Tickets are $30 (patrons save $5 per ticket by purchasing online at www.gtc.org.) Tickets are also available at (818) 238-9998. All performances are at GTC Burbank located at 1111-B West Olive Ave., in the George Izay Park (one and a half blocks west of Victory, behind the blue and white fighter jet).